4 June 2015 – A delegation of election observers from Britain is setting off for Turkey this week to monitor the proceedings of a vital general election whose outcome will determine the country’s future direction for a generation. The campaign has primarily pitted the authoritarian politics of Erdogan’s AKP against the challenge from the HDP which offers peace and democratisation.
The HDP, advocating a peaceful settlement to the Kurdish problem as well as greater democracy, openness and inclusiveness, has been picking up support well beyond its core Kurdish constituency. The party needs to do this to surpass the hurdle of the 10 per cent election threshold absolutely essential to guarantee it any seats in the new parliament. Posing a strong challenge to the AKP’s long dominance of Turkish politics, the HDP has been subjected to strident hostility from the pro-government media and faced serious physical attacks on several of its party offices, which has left several party officials seriously injured and exacerbated social tensions ahead of Sunday’s poll.The British delegation, which consists of lawyers, academics, human rights advocates and journalists, will be based in the city of Gaziantep and is responding to an invitation from the HDP to help ensure fair voting. The delegation will be in Turkey from 4-9th June.
It is anticipated that the presence of foreign observers will deter the more blatant abuses and irregularities in what is expected to be a close poll where every vote counts.
It is essential that the HDP gains political representation to act as a counterweight to the country’s authoritarian drift under President Erdogan and the AKP. In particular, the outcome is going to be vital for the future complexion of Turkish society and the peace process with the Kurds.
Dr. Thomas Jeff Miley, lecturer in Political Science in Cambridge University and member of the delegation, says the HDP stand a good chance of passing the 10% threshold, adding, “Such an outcome would significantly strengthen the prospect of achieving a peaceful and democratic solution to the Kurdish question. At the same time, the coordination and alliance between Kurdish and Turkish left-wing forces distinguishes the HDP, and means that its representation in Parliament would be a highly positive development from the perspective of the territorial integrity of the Turkish state as well.” Sean Hawkey, delegation member representing the Green Party, also agrees HDP success could have a major impact on the Turkey’s policies towards the Kurds, including in Syria, saying, “If the threshold can be passed, the Kurds will achieve political representation that will help the Turkish/Kurdish peace process and influence Turkish policies towards Kurds in Syria. The future of the Kurdish people and their fight against ISIS will be impacted by the result of this critical election. The Turkish Greens are part of the HDP, and the Green Party of England and Wales – that supports HDP’s firm positions on democracy, ecology and equality – is monitoring the process closely.”
 The delegation includes: Sean Hawkey, official representative of the Green Party for England and Wales; Melanie Gingell, human rights lawyer; barrister, Doughty Street Chambers; Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Lecturer in Political Sociology in Department of sociology at Cambridge University; Bronwen Jones, family and immigration barrister at Mansfield Chambers; John Hunt, Journalist, writer, and editor; Dr Austin Reid, consultant in international university development.